Up-and-coming Irish band The Script
Mike Farragher contributed to this story
This January, The Script performed at the Mercury Lounge concert venue in Manhattan. There, the Irish trio made up of lead singer Danny O’Donaghue, guitarist Mark Sheehan and drummer Glen Power, met some of their biggest fans.
"We had a girl with tattoos of our lyrics on her side and one on her elbow, another girl had them on the back of her neck,” says O’Donaghue.
And these fans’ devotion is just one indication that The Script have officially broken into the U.S. pop scene.
The Script release their CD March 17, but people have already started taking notice.
Around 600,000 people downloaded their free song "Before the Worst" as "Single of the Week" on iTunes in four days. "The last person who held that record was 300,000, so we were shocked," enthuses Sheehan.
Branded as “Celtic soul,” The Script’s music is a fine mix of rock, pop and R&B.
“For us it is hard to be in a band and describe a sound,” says Sheehan. “It happens naturally. No one is loyal to a genre in this day and age because of iTunes and file sharing. Nowadays, people jump from one style of music to the next on their iPod, so we tried to make music with that in mind.
“It is very versatile and something you can listen to from top to bottom. We get that all the time.
“People say we sound like Timbaland meets U2. I resented that when I first heard it. If you have a guitar in Ireland then they label you as U2. But then someone broke the analogy down for me - you are a European rock anthemic band that has a U.S feel to it. When it was explained to me that way I was cool with the characterization.”
You may be forgiven for thinking that The Script are an overnight sensation, but the reality is that these twenty-something lads have already lived a lifetime in the music business. O'Donaghue and Sheehan met in their early teens in the rundown James Street area of Dublin, near the Guinness brewery, gravitating to each other through a shared obsession with music, and in particular a love of American hip hop and R&B.
"At that time, MTV only came on in Dublin after midnight, it was the fuzzy channel, and for my generation black culture was just a wave through us all," explains Sheehan. "It wasn't about gangs and guns; it was fashion and fun, singing and dancing."
"One day I heard Stevie Wonder singing and the hairs on the back of my neck went up," says O'Donaghue. "I didn't even know people could sing like that. I'd never heard the acrobatics of it before."
They first caught the ears of some record buyers when they got drafted into MyTown, a boy band backed by U2's Principle Management in the late 90s. The band didn't reach Westlife status, but the exposure did get them noticed by Dallas Austin, Teddy Riley, The Neptunes and Rodney Jerkins.
"It was a wonderful opportunity to see how these guys build songs," admits Sheehan, who says he always carried a little computer drive around and charmed his heroes into swapping libraries of sounds and samples.
O'Donaghue and Sheehan spent almost a decade in the States making demos for other artists, but when they met fellow Dubliner, drummer Glen Power, the dynamic shifted.
And so The Script went into production. They soon hooked up with drummer Power as they attempted to return to the limelight.
The trio's debut single, "We Cry," was released by Phonogenic/ SonyBMG in April 2008 overseas and reached number 13 in the U.K. charts the following month.
From there, The Script’s success only got bigger.
They reached multi-platinum sales in both Ireland and the U.K. since the album was released in August, and the American market is next on the list. Their songs are featured on the VH1 hit show "Sober House" and CBS is featuring them on the "Ghost Whisperer" program.
Even though The Script is in the midst of hitting “the big time,” they’ve not lost their humility.
When the band discovered line had formed around the block for their Mercury Lounge show, they were astounded.
“It was so shocking. It was one of the coldest nights of the year. I am wondering who the hell would come see us in New York City in weather so dreadful. We couldn't believe that people were wrapped around the block. We were so energized,” says Sheehan.
The group’s modesty carries over to their view on their music.
O’Donaghue explained that through their songs, “just observing,” rather than dishing out advice to their fans.
"We're not out there trying to be a cool band. We're not out there trying not to be a cool band. We just do our gig," he says.
“We don't push ourselves on being cool or not,” Sheehan elaborates. “I think people who are into rock music are going to see it as not cool, and people who are into pop music are going to see it as cool. People who are into hip hop are not gonna say 'they're rapping,' people who are into folk music are gonna say 'they're rapping!' It's just opinions are like arseholes - everybody has one."